Hydraulic Log Splitter

This is the second part of our review of hydraulic wood splitter.  Part one on splitter types and motors can be found here:  Log Splitter Review.

Log Splitters Hydraulic Pressing and Splitting Direction

Basically two different splitters can be looked into when make or choose a splitter:

  1. Horizontal Log Splitter: With woodsplitters pressing in horizontal direction, the log must be lifted into the cradle on top of a bar. The hydraulic cylinder presses the wedge into the wood, the split pieces fall to the left and right of the splitter.
  2. Vertical Log Splitter: On vertical hydraulic wood splitters, the pressing movement comes from top down, with the logs of wood "standing" on a little footprint while the wedge presses into the wood.

Which one is better ? Especially before you decide on how to make a log splitter you want to look into what kind will work best: The vertical unit allows the movement of  heavy logs on the ground to the splitter -  no lifting required. Face it! Those large hardwood logs can be extremely heavy. The downside... vertical splitters need the logs cut squarely to stand up straight while the cylinder presses the wedge with all its force into the wood. A variety of models allows you to change from vertical to horizontal log splittering to give the best of both splitting directions.


The Log Splitter Ram

The ram or hydraulic cylinder as it is called, make up the backbone of any good hydraulic log splitter. Its force presses the metal wedge into the log over and over again. The "simple" ram is responsible for some of the most important parts of a good log splitter:

  1. Splitting Force in Tons: A key indicator in any hydraulic pressing cylinder is its force or power measured usually in tons. On some units splitting force can be registered up to 30 tons or more, while home log splitters (especially electric ones ) start with a force of 3 to 5 tons.
  2. Cycle Time: The term sounds a bit strange on a one directional unit like a log splitter, but it basically covers the time the ramp needs to push forward into the wood, splittering the log until its completed and returning back to its starting position. Cycle time does NOT necessary adhere to "the faster the better" here. Due to safety precautions cycle time may need adjustment to 15 to 20 seconds, instead of a 5 seconds on a "hit and run" axe type splitter. Personally I prefer a slower but controlled movement of a log splitter.
  3. Maximum Length of Log: The ramp defines the log lengths a splitter can accommodate. Small DIY type splitters often come with smaller hydraulic cylinder ramps limiting log lengths of only 15 inches ( 38 cm). A good unit should have a ram with a movement of at least 19 inches (50 cm); professional log splitters usually allow 25 inch (62 cm) length of logs to be split.

The Maximum Log Dimensions

As noted above  make sure to check the maximum log length the splitter can handle. In addition  check the maximum log diameter the splitter is capable of handling. Home or DIY splitters handle wood in  diameter of up to 10 or 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) while some professional hydraulic log splitters like the Timberwolf TW10 can handle logs of up to 50 inches (127 cm) diameter.


Continue reading of part 3 of this article on
how to build your own log splitter with parts and a plan >>

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